Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Savings of Biking

Now that it's been a full year since I started bike commuting, I thought I would look back to determine how much I saved. The cost of public transportation keeps rising in New York City, where an unlimited monthly pass went from $89 to $104 last year -- and there is word of another fare hike coming up in the next year. So in addition to the health and environmental benefits of biking, it can also save you some cash.

Over the past year, I averaged 6.4 subway/bus rides per week, totaling $711 for the year, and I biked an average of 26 miles per week. There were some weeks where I was able to rely completely on my bike and didn't need public transportation, but there were also a couple weeks where I didn't bike at all. It wasn't so much the winter cold that stopped me -- in fact, I could have easily biked all through the winter because we didn't get much snow and the weather never dipped cold for too long. Rather, various logistical factors kept me from riding more - like staying up late for rock shows and being too tired to bike in the morning, or health reasons, or post-work plans that I wouldn't want to bike home drunk from, or hopping back and forth between my apartment and my boyfriend's and not always having my bike with me.

I also looked at the cost of bicycle maintenance, which totaled $243 for the year. I paid for a tune-up, two fenders (since the first one was a clip-on type that sucked and kept falling off), a couple bike lights (since one was stolen and one fell off) and a flat tire repair. I included the $40 price of a Transportation Alternatives membership, since it got me discounts at bike shops and they do good advocacy work to improve bike lanes and pedestrian and biker safety in New York.

So $243 for bike maintenance + $711 for metrocard = $954. Meanwhile, if I had paid for an unlimited pass and taken the subway to work every day, like my previous years in New York City, I would have paid $1,248. This means that I saved $294 over the year by commuting by bike rather than by public transportation alone. I expected the savings to be higher, but it's definitely not an insignificant amount. And in reality, I saved even more because my metrocard was deducted pre-tax from my paycheck. Now I can challenge myself to bike more miles and save more money next year!

Have you ever tried changing the way you commute and seen how much you save?


  1. I haven't calculated dollars saved (just miles - which was over 2,000 last year!), but it would be a high number, even counting the purchase of my new bike, tires, accessories, etc. I would guess around $400 or more for the year. It's pretty amazing!

  2. I currently walk to work every day (and we've been a one car family since December). We are moving further from my work in April, so I'll begin taking the bus or bicycle commuting then!

  3. I sold my car and got a folding bike last year. Between the bike and public transportation (or both some days) I think it must be in the 1000s for me, just on gas, insurance, and parking.

  4. That's pretty great!

    I bus exclusively, but our public transit is much cheaper (also, not as good, but it works fine where I live). I pay $140 a year for my bus pass, which is subsidized by my work. I shell out a little extra if I need to take a different bus line or the subway, which isn't included on my pass (we have a couple different bus types).

    I *could* start walking to work, but the route I have isn't very good and takes me way out of my way to avoid freeway offramps that don't have stop signs (scary!).

  5. That is pretty awesome. Plus, just think of the physical benefits that biking has to create. Biking is out of the question for me. I live in a very rural place and biking to town would take pretty much all day. As a matter of fact, it's hard for me to imagine people not even driving because I didn't grow up in a place where that was an option.

  6. five seed - dang girl 2,000 miles! how far is your commute? i only did 1,300, i better get cracking.

    M - i just checked out your blog again, your morning walk sounds nice but very exciting that you're buying a house!

    Rachel - i remember you saying that before about freeways impeding on your walking. it's good that you have a reliable bus option in LA.

    Miz November - i grew up in a ruralish area where it was necessary to drive everywhere too, but living in the city has made me not sure i could go back to that.

    Alex - that's great!